Governor General’s Shortlist: English Poetry, 2010

Boxing the Compass
Richard Greene (Cobourg, ON)
Press; Vehicule/Signal (Montreal)
Vox Status: Unread.
Demographics Appeased: Academics, old men, the aphoristic, Anglophiles.

Circus
Michael Harris (Montreal)
Press: Vehicule/Signal (Montreal)
Vox Status: Unread, but queued up
Demographics Appeased: See previous nominee. Also: first book in years

&: A Serial Poem
Author: Daryl Hine (Chicago)
Press: Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Markham, ON)
Vox Status: Unread
Demographics Appeased: See nominee #1. Also: first book in years

Exploding Into Night
Sandy Pool (Calgary)
Press: Guernica (Toronto)
Vox Status: Read
Demographics Appeased: Young people, women, themed-book fans, my fellow Parkdalians and Guelph MFA grads.

Deepwater Vee
Melanie Siebert (Victoria)
Press: McClelland & Stewart (Toronto)
Vox Status: Read
Demographics Appeased: Young people, eco-poets, West-Coasters

Instant Analysis:
A good list for… Signal Editions, older poets, surprises
A bad list for… Coach House, Anansi, Brick, Atlantic Canada, the “avant garde” (as per usual), my roommates.

A lot of people are going to be hating on this list over the next few weeks. But let me say this first, and get out of your way: I like the Governor General’s Award. I understand that they’ve given up their mantle as premiere Canadian poetry award to the upstart private sectoroos. However, like the doddering old ex-patriarch, they occasionally waddle into the boardroom, tipsy on their medicine, to steer the company in weird new directions. We need this. The Griffins are great, but for all their proud drive to consensus and canonicity, they need something like the GGs to occasionally break the silence with a rousing cheer of, “Doesn’t anybody remember Daryl Hine!” (or, as per last year, “David Zieroth?”)

Re: The Greene book. Sorry, was in a rush and couldn’t find the Vehicule link. Wouldn’t normally link to Amazon.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Awards, Book Industry, Canadian Literature, Poems in the Wider World

9 Comments on “Governor General’s Shortlist: English Poetry, 2010”


  1. Well said. We do need this.

  2. m Says:

    It is so refreshing to read someone who doesn’t initially shit all over the list with “where’s so-and-so?!?” and “who the hell is that?!?” and “prizes are bullshit, but let me bitch about this list in minute detail anyway!”. Thank you.

  3. voxpopulism Says:

    Thanks Marita.

    Don’t get me wrong: Prizes are bullshit. But, yes, they are a form of bullshit with helpful roles to play. Like getting people to read a book by an author they’re not familiar with.

    This isn’t even close to the list I’d draft up if I was in charge. But, I’m not the Emperor of Poetry, and there’s no point wishing otherwise in print. Or, in blog.

  4. voxpopulism Says:

    The judges, if you’re wondering:

    Kimmy Beach, Kim Goldberg, Norm Sibum

  5. m Says:

    Yeah, prizes are bullshit, but as you said, they serve a purpose and are incredibly fun for those directly involved. And I appreciate that you didn’t start this post underlining their poopiness. If someone can’t see past the bullshit, then sit down and ignore it.

    I’d like you to be Emperor of Poetry, at least for a week or two. I think it’d be fun.


  6. FYI, Greene lives in Ontario, but like so many people living in continental Canada, is a Newfoundlander, so Atlantic Canada did okay, considering. Not as kickass as the Gillers, but okay.

  7. voxpopulism Says:

    Yes, and the Pool book was written in Toronto. I listed the authors by current residence.

    And it’s never a bad day for Atlantic Canada, when you think about it…

  8. Kim Goldberg Says:

    For anyone interested (and on Facebook), here is my take on the experience of being on the jury for this year’s poetry GG: http://www.facebook.com/notes/kim-goldberg/jury-duty-gg-for-poetry-2010/10150303943260301


  9. […] October 13th, 2010 Governor General’s Shortlist: English Poetry, 2010. Perhaps as a sign of the blog’s increased weight in this tiny little playpen we all live in, […]


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